Due to its unique properties asbestos appeared in a wide range of building products and materials up until the mid-1980s.
If your workplace was built prior to 1984, there is a high chance that asbestos was used during construction. For buildings erected after this date, the chances of finding large traces of the mineral are lower but still possible.
Asbestos withstands heat, erosion, and decay it is a very versatile product and was used widely in the construction industry.
All states and territories introduced a ban on the mining of raw asbestos and the manufacture, importation, and installation of products containing crocidolite and amosite asbestos from 31 December 1984.
During the late 1980s, its use in building products was banned in Australian states and territories and on 31 December 2003, the use of all forms of asbestos was banned in Australia.
Despite the bans many products that were used in the past are still present in our environment. Many government, educational, commercial and residential buildings still contain in-situ asbestos today. As a result the risk of exposure could continue for many more years.
Asbestos still remains one of the hidden killers
It is a known carcinogen. Inhalation of fibres increase incidences of a number of respiratory diseases including asbestosis, mesothelioma, pleural and lung cancers.
Health risks are posed by any contact with airborne fibres from:
- weathering of Asbestos causing materials (ACMs)
- damage to ACMs
- building and/or maintenance work involving ACMs
- demolition and/or removal of ACMs
- unsafe disposal of ACMs
- Disruption to contaminated land.
In offices built prior to 1984 up to 2003, you can find asbestos in materials and products including:
- Roof Ventilation
- Some brands of roof sheeting & ceiling tiles
- Skylight and manhole frames
- Window moulding and louvre blades
- Some brands of sheeting and ceiling tiles
- Compressed sheet flooring
- Hardiflex wall sheeting
- Some awnings
- Vinyl floor tiles & vinyl floor coverings
- Wet area (toilets and kitchen) wall partitions
- Telecommunications or Electrical pits
- Textiles in the fuse box
- Switchboard materials
- Cement downpipes
- Door mouldings
- Cement and plaster
- Industrial furnaces and heating systems
- Building insulation
- House siding
- Some forms of paint
- Water, drainage and flue pipes
- Electrical conduits
- Air Conditioning Duct insulation
- Fire Doors
Because it is often very difficult to identify the presence of asbestos by sight, the only way to be certain is to have a sample of material analysed by a laboratory. Consequently only a competent and qualified person should take material samples for testing.
Above all it’s important to know the dangers
You will need a Hazardous Materials Survey of your property before your begin your office fit out.
Know the dangers before you commence your office fit out and ensure that you act accordingly. Above all if your office fit out company does not deal with your the problem correctly they are not only endangering their own lives, they could put the lives of yourself, your staff, your family and everyone who comes into contact with you or your office at risk.
For more information in relation to asbestos contact The National Asbestos Safety & Eradication Agency: https://www.asbestossafety.gov.au/
Finally if you need any help or advice on testing for asbestos or its removal please contact us